Conversations with Sir John Hamilton Baker QC: Aspects of Resolving the Legal History of the Common Law

22 May 2018

Abstract Professor Sir John Baker was born in Sheffield in April 1944 towards the end of the Second World War. His path into Legal History was via the Edward VI Grammar School in Chelmsford, and University College London in the early 60s. It was his good fortune that lecturing arrangements still in place at UCL as a wartime legacy caused him to fall under the inspirational guidance of Professor Toby Milsom at LSE for his Legal History tuition. By the time John Baker moved to Cambridge in 1971 he had been called to the Bar at the Inner Temple, and his interest in the development of the common law in the late mediaeval/early Tudor period was firmly grounded. The next forty years were spent at Cambridge, where he established an enviable reputation as an innovative and meticulous scholar, whose publications output has become legendary. He retired from the Downing Chair of the Laws of England in 2011, and was knighted for his services to Legal History in 2003. This article by Lesley Dingle attempts to highlight some aspects of Professor Baker’s illustrious career, and should be read in conjunction with his entry in the Cambridge Eminent Scholars Archive, both of which are based on interviews that she conducted with Sir John in the Law Faculty in February-March 2017.